First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the holiday season by welcoming guests to a first look at this year’s White House Christmas.
By Kristen Thorne
Amidst the radiant décor of the East Room of the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families of the Anacostia Branch of the Marine Corps Reserve to kick off the holiday season. Enchanted youngsters were some of the first visitors to lay eyes on the decorated rooms of the East Wing of the White House that will soon be swarming with more than 100,000 expected guests in the next few weeks. Washington Life was there to view the holiday decorations of the lower level and State floors of the White House Residence.
The numbers are impressive: 19 Christmas trees in every corner of the White House, 100 volunteers from all over the country, 350 pounds of gingerbread “White House”, and 39,000 pipe cleaners to create a life-size Bo the dog replica.
Along with the incredible wave of festivity that transformed each room, the theme of the White House holiday decorations radiated from the handmade leaf rosettes, dried pomegranate wreaths and ornaments. “Simple Gifts” is based upon the idea that the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don’t cost a thing. As First Lady Michelle Obama explained, “Simple Gifts” is, “the time that we spend with our loved ones, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and the joy we feel from reaching out to those in need.”
After the East Wing announcement, Mrs. Obama and the military families then visited “creative stations” in the State Dining Room where they learned how to make holiday decorations, cards, and decorate cookies. The children had the opportunity to meet Laura Dowling the White House florist, and Chefs Cris Comerford and Bill Yosses who taught them some of their holiday secrets.
This is the second year the White House staff will be supporting Toys for Tots’ efforts with a toy drive for children of the D.C. community. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the First Lady standing behind [last year’s campaign] really made it successful,” said President and CEO of “Toys for Tots,” General Pete Osman. “The Marine Corps has been doing “Toys for Tots” for 63 years and have been able to distribute over 400 million toys to almost 200 million children.”
The event was a touching reminder of the little ways we can brighten the holiday season for others and left everyone overwhelmed with holiday spirit. “All right now, it’s Christmas,” cheered Mrs. Obama, “I know you guys are in the military and you keep your kids disciplined –but they can scream! It’s Christmas! It’s exciting!”